Monday, June 04, 2007

Sometimes it's Hard to be Introspective

I had a dentist appointment today to get my very old fillings fixed. They were old and leaking, a lovely thought.

(What is it with my life paralelling hers, anyway? We quit our jobs at the same time, moved at the same time, and now a dentist appointment on nearly the same day! What are the odds of that??? It boggles the mind, it does.)

I love my dentist. He is upbeat and effervescent. If any a dentist were NOT going to kill himself, it would be him. You've heard of that right? The survey that was done years ago that said of all the careers where suicide is likely, dentists rank highly? Well, not mine. He even makes train noises while he gives me the shot of novocaine (chuka chuka chuka chuka). I'm assuming this is to make the fact that he's sticking a needle into my mouth flesh more of a fun thing than it is? Maybe he thinks I look very young, almost childlike, and so would like train noises? I don't know, but he's eminently positive and I love that. It makes me feel good. Which is, rather obviously, the point.

There is a tv screen on the ceiling and they give you earphones and a remote. Today I watched an interview with Chris Rock on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and it was hard because it was so funny and all I wanted to do was laugh, but I couldn't laugh with all the dental equipment in my mouth. There I was, all dental-dammed and laughing - on the inside.

The Heaven Can Wait 5k run was this past Sunday. I told myself my goal was to complete it in 35 minutes, which changed when I thought to myself, "just finish in less than 40 minutes, please God" while in the middle of the race. As I approached the finish I saw the clock and it looked like it read 38 minutes. I couldn't tell, because the scaffolding was in front of it. I just knew it couldn't say 30 but was awfully disappointed that it had already been 38 minutes. And then! As I got closer and the seconds passed the minute mark, it read 31! I had completed the race in 31 minutes, 10 seconds. I couldn't believe it. Here is proof that praying works.

There were 2,700 people there (woot!) and 700 of them were runners. It was amazing to stand there with so many caring people who'd been through hell with their loved ones and friends. I was there for my dad, brother and young cousin who died of Leukemia; my great-aunt who died of breast cancer; my other great-aunt who had breast cancer but survived due to having a mastectomy; and for my father-in-law who survived Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Can I just say it's hard to get pumped up for a race when, in the minutes that precede the start, you are crying because you see things like a 10-year old girl with a sign on her back which says she is there in memory of her mom? Or, the mother/daughter pair who wore tank tops on which was printed "Heaven didn't wait for my soulmate" on the mom, and "Heaven didn't wait for my dad" on the daughter. The mom was crying, I was crying, and so were many others around me. Another intense moment came just before the start when the announcer asked all the cancer survivors to stand while everyone else knelt to the ground. Talk about profound silence. Then there was about 5 minutes of applause. And, more crying.

(Unrefined segway...prepare yourself for rapid change of topic just ahead.)

I have a friend who likes to analyze. People, relationships, situations, you name it; she is the one asking "what do you think they meant by that?" It makes sense that she would be analytical since she's a mathematical type. It's more inexplicable that I would be, except I am always searching for answers. (I happen to not give a fat frog's fanny about answers to do with math, sadly.) I think she's very wise, because all that inspection will eventually yield answers. I am not the friend in the above scenario, cleverly disguised by the pseudonym "friend", but I admit that I like to examine things, too. Probably too much.

Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." What I have to say to that is, you said it, brother.

There is a downside to being an introspective person other than the obvious one about not being the life of the party. Paris Hilton, I am not. People will never be think of me and then say, "She's always so much fun, let's invite her to our party!" Of course, I'm also not going to jail but that's not the point. The point is, the downside to being introspective can be a propensity to ask "Why?" and to not only NOT figure it out, but to place an unjustly serious tone on otherwise good conversation.

I watched a movie the other night called "The Fountain" because after reading her memoir, this is apparently my Ellen Burstyn period. (I plan to watch most all her work except "The Exorcist" because if I watch that film I won't be able to sleep at night for fear that our house is haunted or some other melodrama.) The film was done by Darren Aronofsky of "Requiem For a Dream" fame. The imagery was great at evoking feelings and creating mystery, but the story was a bit too mysterious in that I didn't really understand it. Hugh Jackman's character (maybe that explains it?) is that of a Spanish Conquistador who searches for the Tree of Life which was lost in the Central American jungles. Queen Isabella, played by Rachel Weisz, sends him on this search during the Inquisition in which her life is in danger. The two also have contemporary characters; she with the brain tumor, he the doctor searching for the cure.

I got to thinking, why do these characters want to live forever? I don't see the appeal. I mean, I see the appeal maybe knowing you will live to be 70 or 80, be in good health and not die young; but not the appeal in living forever. And, aren't there things we really aren't supposed to know? Furthermore, things which we'd be much better off if we didn't know? Like, how badly your mouth will hurt if you don't go to the dentist more often, you silly, stupid woman?? I'd be better of having known that, but then again, I did know that and chose to ignore it. Let that be a lesson to you.

I think a better question to ask than, "Why are we here?" is instead, "What is the best I can make of my time here?" Or even, "What am I supposed to learn?" I like that one.

I just don't think we're supposed to know the reasons for what we're doing here. I think we're supposed to figure out how to get along with each other, not unlike toddlers at a playdate. I think it's just that simple. Although I won't tell that to the Palestinians or the Jews, the Hutus or the Tutsis, the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodians. Good grief, there are a lot of terrible things in this world. Good thing there's a lot of goodness to counteract the bad. There really is a lot of good. Especially when you look for it, it shows up.

Ahem. Undue seriousness, anyone? I can dance on tables, really, just make enough cosmopolitans for me and my mood lightens right up. Is that what this blog needs? More cosmos?


Wendy said...

31 minutes 10 seconds is great!

Loralee Choate said...

Believe it or not, there is a big downside to being "Fun". Trust me here.

I examine myself all the freaking time. I don't know if it's a good thing or not. I'm pretty brutal about it, so I often end up pretty depressed. It would probably be more productive if I was A: More balanced and B: More logical

Which I'm not.

Lady M said...

Congratulations on your race time!

I volunteered at the Lance Armstrong foundation's Ride for the Roses a few years ago, and one of the more beautiful and tearful pairs of finishers were a man riding solo on a tandem bike and his 10 year old son, riding his small bike beside him, both wearing tags in honor of the mom. Sniff.